Net Worth:

$1.52 billion +1.3 %

Last Year:

$1.5 billion




Los Angeles

Source of Wealth:

Surgical devices

The Money: Spinal surgeon, prolific inventor and now venture philanthropist won a $1.3 billion settlement from Medtronic Inc. in 2005, ending four-year patent dispute. Also receiving an additional $50 million in $10 million increments. Michelson credits his accountant with a broad investment strategy that enables net worth to grow even as he shifts money to foundations.

Buzz: Michelson consults for Medtronic, but devotes most of his time to overseeing two foundations and a charitable trust that have combined endowments of more than $100 million. Gary Karlin Michelson Charitable Foundation focuses on supporting early cutting-edge research that's below the radar of government grant-makers. A companion medical research trust similarly provides two-year grants as bridge funding to promising graduate medical researchers. The dog owner also formed the Found Animals Foundation, which works toward more humane animal control services. Philadelphia native went into spinal surgery because grandmother suffered from rare spinal condition. Holds 600 U.S. and foreign patents for inventions, some of which were manufactured by his Karlin Technology Inc., founded while working at L.A.'s Centinela Hospital Medical Center. Put company in charitable trust after Medtronic settlement gave the medical device company ownership of his U.S. patents and pending patent applications, plus rights to future spinal inventions.

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